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An Interview with Brandon Ruckdashel, Director of Grinder

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2015

Brandon Ruckdashel on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Grinder - in a few words, what is it about?


Luke (Tyler Austin), an innocent teenager, in search of his sexual identity, leaves his abusive home in the suburbs for the promise of a modeling job in New York City. There he meets Rich (Jon Fleming), an unscrupulous model agent, and falls into the dark world of New York nightlife. Tim (Brandon Ruckdashel), a photographer who leads a double life in spite of being engaged to a young woman (Sarah Lazar) becomes obsessed with Luke and tries to save Luke from his fate.


What were your inspirations when writing Grinder, and is any of the movie based on personal experience?


Many of the scenes are based either on personal experience or on nightmares I’ve had crashing on couches over the years.


How would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?


“Bumper Bowling.” The trick is to hire a cast that will deliver what you are looking for and then you as the director provide a construct for them to work within. We had everything from the very experienced on down to a number of people receiving their first feature credits. I’ve been lucky with directors through the years. Many have trusted me to do my work and stayed out of my way. I provided the same construct. I also like to work with “Secrets,” which is one of the tools that appears throughout the different methods. It helps to add subtle depth and subtext to each of the characters without getting too heavy-handed with what the actors are doing.


Tyler Austin

You also appear in front of the camera in Grinder - so did you write the role with yourself in mind, and what did you draw upon to bring Tim to life?


Yea… that was not my initial intention, but such is the way some things work out. I originally intended on only directing Grinder, but through the adventure of pre-production I ended up doing both. Tim and his relationship with Sarah is something I have played with a bit. Originally this relationship appears in my first full length play Exposure. I think people, in general, like to deal with sexuality as a black or white device when in fact it is much more gray.


What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


How is “gut feeling” for a response? My audition process is a little nontraditional. I like to sit people down and do an interview. If I find them to be someone I could listen to for fifteen minutes, with my terrible attention span, I know the audience can stand them for longer than an hour. That is the most important quality in an actor. They need to be intriguing.

I was also after something a little different. I wanted to tell this story without using the typical LGBT clichés. Like all communities the LGBT community is very diverse. It takes many different types and personalities to fill out and I wanted to focus on a story where LGBT was just an assumption and never became the focus of the narrative. The characters “happen to be gay.” So we needed a cast that was able to achieve this and would feel comfortable approaching the characters in this way.


Jon Fleming

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


It was a very small and intimate set, sometimes extremely small. In hindsight I wish I would have had a few more hands running around and helping the departments out, but we really never had the extra space for that.

The first three days we shot Rich’s apartment at my apartment. It was nice to not have a truck, but it was not a great thing having our entire light kit loaded into my back room… that was a bit much even for my cat.

I had a phenomenal crew and many of them received their first feature credit through Grinder. They all worked hard and definitely deserved it. If I could have the same atmosphere and just scale it up a bit for my next film I’d be a very happy camper.


As far as I know, Grinder is your debut feature as a director, so in retrospect, what was that experience like and how would you describe yourself as a director? And since you have directed a handful of music videos before Grinder, how have they prepared you for handling a feature film?


Yes it is. I think you’d need to talk to my crew and cast to get an accurate description of me as a director. When you are making a feature you really don’t have a lot of time to be introspective and with our time constraints we just held on to our knickers and ran with it. Everything I’ve done in life has prepared me to start directing. I started doing post production audio and mixing when I was 16, following that up with photography and then videography. These skills allowed me to communicate with the departments and I think that is essential for anyone who intends on directing a feature. Without that communication you are really putting your project in the hands of the gods... and they are not nice gods.

I think the most important experience has been my film work with Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski [Jim Wynorski interview - click here]. The 1st ADs I worked with on those sets taught me a lot about shooting efficiently and quickly.

Gravedigger was also an experience which prepared me to direct Grinder [Brandon's Gravedigger interview - click here]. It was essential that I had already done post production on a feature and my roles on that set had also expanded past the traditional roles of a DP. At times it was more like directing on training wheels.


Brandon in Grinder

The $64-question of course, when and where will your film be released onto the general public?

Only $64? We are in talks with a few distributors and submitting to film festivals. I am fairly certain we will release in 2016, but these things take their own time. At the moment I am getting started with writing my next feature. And away we go on the next journey.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Schoolboys is looking like the next film, but aside from a few outlines and drafts we’re still in the early phases.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
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Find Brandon Ruckdashel
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

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Find Brandon Ruckdashel here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Brandon Ruckdashel at

I think we have other social media pages… but we’ve been pretty good at branding them so I’m sure people can find them if they want.


Anything else you are dying to mention that I have merely forgotten to ask?


Thanks for doing the interview man! Sorry it’s taken me a bit to get this together #DCP>Hell #PostProduction


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks for being involved and supporting Grinder!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD